July 1st 2006
The use of erythropoietic growth factors to treat chemotherapy-induced anemia (CIA) has been increasing as clinicians become more aware of the ability of these drugs to improve the quality of life of patients with cancer. The cost associated with erythropoietic growth factor therapy makes its appropriate use a practical issue for physicians and hospitals. Clinical practice guidelines can benefit physicians by increasing practice efficiency, reducing medical errors, increasing the quality of medical care, and decreasing reimbursement problems. The American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society of Hematology, the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) have all published guidelines for using erythropoietic growth factors to treat CIA, and this article reviews and summarizes those guidelines. Of the three guidelines for the use of erythropoietic growth factors in CIA, the NCCN guidelines are based on the most recent data. Current evidence indicates that erythropoietic growth factors can increase hemoglobin levels, reduce the need for red blood cell transfusions, and improve quality of life; the effect of erythropoietic therapy on outcomes in patients with CIA is still being investigated.